John McLaughlin at Nathan Phillips Square – Toronto Review
Who: John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension – TD Toronto Jazz Festival
From: Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England
Where: Nathan Phillps, Toronto, ON
When: June 23, 2013 – 9:30pm
TOTAL SCORE: 9.6/10
John McLaughlin – Guitar
Etienne Mbappe – Bass
Gary Husband – Keyboards & Drums
Ranjit Barot – Drums
Crowd: About 1200 people packed into the smoldering hot tent at Nathan Phillips Square to the see Jazz Fusion legend John McLaughlin. Old and young alike were ever present and overall it was a well mixed culturally diverse and appreciative crowd, that stayed until the very end. Another 250 or so gathered outside in an attempt to capture the show. After a 90 minute set, a small crowd of 75 waited patiently for the master for photo ops or a signature, proving that Mr. McLaughlin still has a very loyal fan base that just doesn’t quit.
Style: Jazz Fusion pioneer and legend.
Technicalities: Sound and lights provided by Metalworks was top notch. There was a clear difference between opener Courtney Pine and the headliners. John thanked his sound man at the end of the set, presumably he brought his own guy.
Sex Appeal: If music is a fountain of youth John McLaughlin has certainly drank his share. The 71 year young veteran plays with a crisp virility and still has the stage presence to match his chops of earlier years.
Memorable moment: Drummer Ranjit Barot took two solos where he scatted along to himself. Both were fantastic moments and the band never missed a beat coming back in.
Mentionable song: I have to mention two songs that stood out. The second last song Mother Tongues from The Heart of Things: Live in Paris had some fantastic break downs. The most noticeable being when Keyboardist Gary Husband jumped behind a second drum kit to trade solos and eventually play in time with Barot. The second mentionable song was the encore ” You Know You know” from the 1971 Mahavishnu Orchestra debut The Inner Mounting Flame. I never thought I’d see John McLaughlin play anything from that album and neither did most of the crowd. I should note that Husband did a fantastic job holding down the string parts. The place erupted with the opening riff which led to a long standing ovation when the band exited the stage. A fitting end to a flawless performance.
Review and Photos: Darrell Shelley
Darrell Shelley is a musician, sound engineer and Editor In Chief. He graduated with a diploma in Jazz Studies from St.Fx in 2003. He’s traveled, Europe, USA, Mexico and Canada several times. His band Chameleonize has shared the stage with the likes of Steve Hill, My Darkest Days, Billy Talent and DOA and won “best hard rock band” at the Barrie New Music fest in Barrie ON 2011. As a sound engineer Darrell has worked with K-OS, Teenage Head, Rick Emmett, Bachman/Cummings, Donnie Whalberg, YOB, Cascada, Down With Webster, Sons Of Otis, Broken Social Scene, The Philosoper Kings, Sugarland and the late great Jeff Healey.